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Since spring in DC is a fail so far, it’s still prime soup weather. This Indian dal-inspired soup (adapted from Deborah Madison‘s recipe) goes great with a scoop of plain yogurt and naan, rice or flatbread on the side.

I made some modifications to the original, which is pretty heavy on the turmeric (I replaced it with a reduced amount of curry powder), butter (I love butter but 4 tbsp is excessive) and citrus (3 limes for one pot?!). The original also keeps the spinach on the side whereas I chuck it right into the soup along with the other vegetables.

2 cups lentils (red, brown or green)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Madras curry powder
1 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 – 1 lb chopped frozen or fresh spinach
Salt and pepper
optional: a bit of leftover carrot, celery, and/or tomato, diced

Put the lentils in a pot with 7 cups water, 1 teaspoon curry powder and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are completely soft, 20 or so minutes depending on which type you used. Add some water if necessary and puree a little bit with a hand blender if you like.

While the lentils are cooking, saute the onion (and carrot, celery etc if using) in two tablespoons of butter along with 2 teaspoons cumin and 1 teaspoon curry powder. If using frozen spinach, thaw in the microwave with some water. When the onions are softened, add the spinach, cilantro and some salt. Stir until wilted. Add 1/2 cup water, cover and cook for a few minutes until done.

Onions with cumin, curry powder, and some leftover carrots

Put the spinach onion mixture in the lentil pot, thinning the soup with additional water as needed. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 4 quarts (6 servings).